Training / Coaching

5 ways to get over a bad race

Training / Coaching

Triathlon Swim Start

Words : Matty White – @MattyWhite77  Pic : Delly Carr

Apart from giving yourself a stern Foreman uppercut, there are a number of ways to pick yourself up off the ground after a bad race and everyone deals with this in different ways, believe me when I say that I have teetered over the edge of many thoughts after a series of shockers! Especially when you are a pro athlete and this is your livelihood.

Once you have been at the edge of hopelessness after a bad Ironman and have even considered faking your own death during a self chartered Marlin fishing trip off the coast of the Bahamas in an unfortunate freak wind storm (yes I have also thought this one through a few times) there are numerous always ways of picking up your bat and ball, wiping off the tears and stepping back to the crease after being knocked down. Here are a few tips I have learned during 17 years of pro triathlon of getting knocked around more than Dermeret Brereton in a late 80s VFL Grand Final!

1:Reassess your goals and set a long term plan: As a coach I am aware that this sport of Ironman and triathlon is currently booming and is the new Golf for a lot of middle aged execs and people bored with just running marathons. With anyone being able to enter an Ironman as their first triathlon it attracts a lot of beginners into the sport, this is great for the sport and its participation levels, but a lot of beginners can be impatient in terms of the goals they set initially which can lead to disappointment. Ironman PBs and Kona spots don’t happen overnight. They can happen but in a realistic manner. Speak to someone experienced in the sport and they will guide you in the right direction in order to improve and reach your goals.

2: Train Harder:  If you raced like the back marker in Caulfield race 6 on a late Saturday afternoon then why wouldn’t you. This is the simple solution in most peoples minds after a big race when realistically they need a rest, a good coach will see this after listening to an athlete and how they feel in the period leading up to the race and guide the athlete into a well monitered rest period in order to re assess and recover. This is hard for self coached athletes especially when they are sitting on the couch watching re runs of Desperate Housewifes while your training buddies are knocking out 400s on the track. So take a deep breath and think of the bigger picture and REST is key in this situation.

3: A Change is as good as a Holiday: Once you have looked over the edge of the Gap after not breaking your PB and missing a Kona slot, it might be time to have a good hard look at yourself! The uber seriousness of the sport can take hold a lot of the time and this stress can lead to bad races, so take the time out forget about racing and spend time with your family, play golf, knit a colourful cardigan, or even knock out a few WODs in a crossfit gym as nothing will make you want to get back to triathlon training again than spending an excruciating hour with a bunch of over obsessive crossfitters!

4:  Chat with your coach: If you have a coach then make some time to sit down and work out the reasons as to why this race went pear shaped, most coaches these days are experiences athletes and have been through this sort of issue themselves in their career and you can learn a lot from them, especially from a mental perspective and getting back on the horse. If I changed coaches after every bad race I would have had 273 coaches in my career. On a personal level as a  triathlon coach I have found it necessary for my development to also learn how the athlete operates and there is nothing better than working together to ascertain a solution as this will help two fold in the future process with the approach to training and racing for the athlete. So think long term and work out a well thought out solution together, as most bad races are just a minor speed bump or learning curve on the way to an eventual better race.

5. Kneejerk Reaction: Call it a day and roll up at the Dandenong C grade football pre season try outs. You will have a great base running capacity, but your girly triathlete arms might be a slight disadvantage, and you will almost certainly cop a “special delivery” from the local opposing big man because you are running around too much getting the ball! So either way after a bad race in the long term you will end up getting an uppercut! So stick with it and be smart as long term realistic plans lead to long term consistent gains. And remember to maintain perspective. It’s not all life and death!

About the author:
Matt White
Matty White is a well known pro who was known for his hard charging bike leg.
He is also a Level 1 Triathlon coach and can be found at